Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Embers of Desire, Ashes

This haunting song (see the video and English translation below), with music by Khayyam and lyrics by Kaifi Azmi, is considered to be one of Mohammed Rafi's best. To recover from the melancholy of it takes longer than one usually expects. Rafi's selection of a high octave from the start, as opposed to starting at a lower pitch and gradually reaching a climax of hopelessness, was a novel experiment. It was close to Kaifi Azmi and Rafi's hearts.

jaane kyaa dhoondhti rahti hain ye aankhen mujhmein
raakh ke dher mein sholaa hai na chingaari hai
jaane kyaa dhoondhti rahti hain ye aankhen mujhmein
raakh ke dher mein sholaa hai na chingaari hai

ab na wo pyaar na us pyaar ki yaadein baaki
aag yoon dil mein lagi kuchh na rahaa kuchh na bachaa
jiski tasveer nigaahon mein liye baithi ho
main wo dildaar nahin uski hoon khaamosh chitaa
jaane kyaa dhoondhti rahti hain ye aankhen mujhmein
raakh ke dher mein sholaa hai na chingaari hai

zindagi hans ke guzarti to bahut achchhaa thaa
khair hans ke na sahi ro ke guzar jaayegi
raakh barbaad muhabbat ki bachaa rakhi hain
raakh barbaad muhabbat ki bachaa rakhi hain
baar-baar isko jo chhedaa to bikhar jaayegi
jaane kyaa dhoondhti rahti hain ye aankhen mujhmein
raakh ke dher mein sholaa hai na chingaari hai

aarzoo jurm wafaa jurm tamannaa hai gunaah
ye wo duniyaa hai jahaan pyaar nahin ho saktaa
kaise baazaar kaa dastoor tumhen samjhaaun
bik gayaa jo wo khareedaar nahin ho saktaa
bik gayaa jo wo khareedaar nahin ho saktaa
jaane kyaa dhoondhti rahti hain ye aankhen mujhmein
raakh ke dher mein sholaa hai na chingaari hai
jaane kyaa dhoondhti rahti hain ye aankhen mujhmein
raakh ke dher mein sholaa hai na chingaari hai

I do not know what your eyes keep seeking in me
In this pile of ash
There is no spark
There is no ember 

There is no love now
Nor memories of it
The fire that devastated my heart
Nothing of it was left
Nothing was saved
The image you have in your eyes
I am not that lover
But his quiet pyre

It would be good if this life passed joyfully
But that is not to be
It will pass in sorrow
I have saved the ashes of my devastated love
They will scatter away
If you nudge them again and again

Desire is a crime, Love is a crime
Yearning for love is a sin
In this world there can be no love

How should I explain the rules of the bazaar
One who has sold his soul
Cannot pretend to be the buyer

Thursday, August 17, 2017


to freedom
to anywhere
even out into space

but in all probability
to be crumbled
food for insects
and birds

but can any one of these
the cheerfully unhinged

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


insect lace-makers
wreak destruction
leaving behind
a kind 
of beauty
in a symbiotic cycle
of survival

Bhashwati wrote:

our leaders
wreak destruction
leaving behind 
a frayed social fabric 
a tattered economy
in a parasitic
never ending cycle
of power lust

we cower under the fig leaf of patriotism and
hail the lace on the emperor's clothes.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Deep Into Silence

the rarest, deepest, darkest thing
the most desired thing
the thing that draws you in
farther, just a little more
the thing that drowning offers

the water waits
so ready
so still

Friday, August 11, 2017

Childhood's End

Madhavi, 1968

The year was 1968, give or take one, and Sholavaram held its first, perhaps India's first, international car-racing event. Madhavi, you were about six-eight years old? Your parents, Mukund and Geeta, and some friends, I don't know how, succeeded in forcing me to go with them to see the races. Having zero if not minus interest in the zoom-zoooom-zzrrrooom proceedings, where I could not even zzzzzzz, I spend my most of my time looking at people. I was timid about taking photographs without permission, so I mostly took pictures within the group where I was a reluctant participant. I think I remember your name, Madhavi? Having already taken some of your wide-eyed pictures, I got this one, and have prized it.

Like passengers in a railway compartment or at a station, where culturally and linguistically different, divergent people meet and part, our lives also peeled away.

I have several pictures of your mother Geeta, and your grandfather, Pratap Rai Mehta, both in my collection and posted on my blog, as well as a couple of yours. I saw your mother, father and your brand-new (to me) brother last in 1995, at my one-man show sponsored by the US Consulate at Bangalore, but learned very little about you. I wanted to know about you, and more, but in the crowded hall, except for pleasantries, nothing much could be exchanged.

 By chance, if you recognise this picture, me or my name, contact me: I am very eager to know about what happened, and is happening, to you. You must be in your early 50s by now; a mother perhaps, and why not also, maybe, a grandmother. I hope very much that life has not wearied you, and that you have still not lost your wide-eyed curiosity.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017


vanishing into water
full of life or lifeless
from microscopic to gigantic
named and called earth by
Man, the ultimate creature on the planet
on the scale of evolution
whose pace is incremental
insatiable in quest 
for what he believes
to be progress
is also doing his best
instead, unknown to himself
to perish

Bhashwati wrote:

Vanishing appears to me to be ice eggs nestling in a complex hydrological womb.
Pleasingly soothing to the eye but almost ominous to consciousness because all our pretensions notwithstanding, we are most certainly melting down with the planet and faster than we would like to acknowledge.   

Monday, August 07, 2017


losing its bearing
latitude and longitude
depraded by the depraved
just one single species
that it spawned

losing its coordinates
proximate to extinction

blurred definition of 
arctic antarctic 
equator capricorn
all into cancer

who called it dear mother
who made it out to be blue

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Path, Pathik

breezy, smooth
pleasantly lonely

going forward, though
are unknown hurdles
divisions, offering
confusing choices
often frighteningly lonely
instilling fear of the unknown
from somewhere to somewhere
and eventually
from nowhere to nowhere

Bhashwati wrote:

What a glorious composition of elements.
Prithvi pe path aur aasmaan mein pathik.

This universe is best left untrammelled by the human element and its dilemmas and distractions.

Thursday, August 03, 2017


whether or not
time withers you
before you perish,

all animated life,
its renewal, rejuvenation, reproduction, 
which has continued for countless centuries

is counting down
to the end of survival
in any form

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Time: Ahead Behind

I am
behind time
in everything
I think I want
to try to wish to do
and don't

wondering if it matters
to time:
if it is seeing, hearing
wondering, judging

I live
or am I being
unknown to me
by life
pushing and dragging me
eventually to leave me

rather than do
I don't
rather than use time
I step out of it
and plaintively
let it overtake me
ignore me

if time baffled
by my ineptitude
my clumsy involuntary motions
through it
into it
or out of it

what is time anyway
and for that matter, I